by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,545,880 words
This page describes Does God endure in the Kaliyuga? which is chapter 1 of the English translation of the Skanda Purana, the largest of the eighteen Mahapuranas, preserving the ancient Indian society and Hindu traditions in an encyclopedic format, detailling on topics such as dharma (virtous lifestyle), cosmogony (creation of the universe), mythology (itihasa), genealogy (vamsha) etc. This is the first chapter of the Dvaraka-mahatmya of the Prabhasa Khanda of the Skanda Purana.
1-2. Sūta, please tell as to how in this harsh epoch known as Kaliyuga with pre-ponderance of atheists and proliferation of narrow-mindedness among people, Madhusūdana (i.e. an epithet of Viṣṇu) can be obtainable? After the phasing out of the three Yugas in which people’s behaviour was always marked by the pursuit of righteousness, arrived the difficult Kaliyuga. Hence (the question arises) where is Lord Viṣṇu?
4. Then, with the purpose that actions of gods meet the desirable accomplishment as well as the earth gets relieved of the burden, Janārdana (an epithet of Viṣṇu) manifested himself in bodily incarnation in the house of Vasudeva.
7. Getting the milk of cow named Surabhi [Surabhī?] sprinkled on himself, he shattered the joy of Indra. Then engaging himself in dancing with other goddesses he killed the demon Keśi by tearing him apart.
9. Then after killing Kaṃsa—the king of Bhoja under the watchful eyes of the gods and the demons, he got Ugrasena crowned as the king of the city of Yadupura considered as the stronghold of the Yādavas.
10. He killed the formidable Jarāsandha and his troop of barbarians. While doing his part of coordination in the conduct of the Rājasūya Yajña (i.e. the sacrificial rite performed by a monarch as a mark of his sovereignty) he killed Caiddya [Caidya?] (i.e. an epithet of Śiśupāla).
11. After the conclusion of the Mahābhārata war which had badly affected the earth with its aftermath, Kṛṣṇa took all the members of the Yadava dynasty to Prabhāsa region under the pretext of a journey.
12. Addicted to drinking and engaged in mutual infighting to kill one another, the Yādava dynasty there was on the path of ruin.
13. Then Janārdana (i.e. Kṛṣṇa) giving up his body went inside the infinite underground surface of the earth and making the holy fig tree his resort, remained seated there.
15. Yadupura, the stronghold of Yādavas got completely flooded, and submerged under the sea. Then Arjuna made an abode, i.e. a temple for Kṛṣṇa in Indraprastha.
17. With the gradual decay in upright religion, unrighteousness began to acquire gigantic form (in this Kaliyuga). With the expulsion of debates over Vedantic dictates, the attendant religious activities/rituals began to wear out. The single-footed religious conduct based on Varṇāśrama system was also abandoned.
20-22. (The sages said amongst themselves) “O sages! All of you see that the Kaliyuga is expanding in such form breaking all limits. The thieves are also running here and there, harassing subjects everywhere. Men have become very unrighteous. Truth and straightforwardness have been driven away. So how could we, as virtuous sages attain God Viṣṇu? Who can prevent such downfall and help the society to successfully cross over? Can it at all be possible for Madhusūdana to appear in the Kaliyuga as in the previous three yugas? Can it at all be possible for us to move about in this Kaliyuga without him, the lotus-eyed, i.e. Kṛṣṇa.”
23. When the ascetics were getting worried as such being sad within themselves, the sage Uddālaka began to speak out.
24-26. Uddālaka said, “The virtuous sages, as long as we do not get ourselves involved in the mischiefs of Kaliyuga, all of us together can go to that world of Brahmā without any blame on our part. As far as the question regarding presence of Viṣṇu in the Kaliyuga of the Creator (i.e. Brahmā) is concerned, if Viṣṇu will not be there along with Rudra and Brahmā in the same yuga, we shall give up our bodies without the Lotus-eyed Kṛṣṇa, for who can put up in this Kaliyuga without God?”
27. After hearing these words of the sage, all the ascetics—the diligent followers of any vow taken up in the mind, said “well-said, well-said” and then went to Brahmā.
28. Feeling satisfied within and then remembering and narrating amongst themselves the stories of Viṣṇu and his various forms all the ascetics then came near Brahmā.
29. They happened to see Brahmā seated in his primary position but surrounded by actual bodily-beings as well as by those without bodies.
30. Seeing the four-faced God (i.e. Brahmā) they (the sages) paid their honour falling flat on the ground and by reciting the hymns to please him.
31. The sages said, “Obeisance to you having birth from the lotus, the four-faced, the unperishable and indestructible. Obeisance to you the grandfather and the creator.”
32. When the devout sages recited hymns in this manner the God born from lotus (i.e. Brahmā) became very pleased. Then he intended to ask the assembled sages who offered him water at his fed, flowers, etc. and prayers in honour.
33. Brahmā asked, “The sons, what is the reason that prompted you to come here? Tell me the fact behind the same. Is everything all right with you, the fortunate souls, regarding your sons, your disciples and your companions in the spiritual domain?”
34-36. The sages said, “By your grace, we have attained fruits of our penance. It is by virtue of penance that we happened to have a look at the teacher of all gods—the Lord himself. Śaṃbhu (an epithet of Brahmā), listen to the reason behind our coming to you. After passing out of the three yugas like Kṛta, Dvāpara, etc., the formidable Kaliyuga has arrived. But then where is Lord Viṣṇu on earth after taking a look of whom can we ultimately attain liberation becoming free from bondage?”
37. Brahmā said, “The best of Brāhmaṇas, I do not know the principal image of Viṣṇu. He, the God is known to me only in his form as fish and as a tortoise.”
38. The Sages said, “O father! if you do not know the whereabouts of Viṣṇu, then we may go to Prayāga where we can forsake our bodies.”
39-40. Brahmā said, “Let there be no sorrows for you people. Hence, for your welfare, I can advise that all of you proceed to hell where a virtuous demon, dwells. Going there, ask Prahlāda—the virtuous demon for the Brāhmaṇas, he must be aware of the factual whereabout of Hari.”
41. Hearing these words of him (i.e. Brahmā), the Brāhmaṇas for whom real wealth lay in observance of penance left in that direction (i.e. the hell) after bowing down to the God of gods.
42. With pleasure in mind, they hurried up in that direction constantly (praising the demon within themselves) saying, “It is only the great fortune of the demon king to know the whereabouts of Janārdana.”
43. Thinking like this, the Brāhmaṇas then reached deep into the surface under the earth.
44. After arriving at his city there, they began to enter into his beautiful hall. Seeing them from a distance to be heading towards them, Bali, son of Virochana along with Prahlāda got up and moved ahead towards them with all eagerness to welcome them.
45-46. He offered them the mixture of five substances (like honey, curd, ghee, milk, sugar, etc.) in their honour. He too also made gifts of cows to them and offered water at their feet. Remarkably happy within himself, he then told them bringing together both of his palms in salutation, “Welcome to you all great souls. My night today will pass off well as I have got a sight of yours. Please say what can I do for you.”
47. With such befitting welcome by the demon king, the good-hearted Brāhmaṇas became very happy and then told his son.
48-54. The sages said, “We have come here for our task as you, the strong soul being the lover of Hari can only save us from getting washed away in the ocean of this worldly life. How could we be without fear in this formidable and harsh age known as “Kaliyuga” without Viṣṇu? In this yuga unrighteousness has won over righteousness which is eternal. Falsehood has won over truth and the low castes are claiming themselves as Brāhmaṇas. The cunning are claiming to have acquired knowledge of the pathways laid down in the Veda while women are gaining an upper hand over men. The outcastes are posing a threat to Brāhmaṇas claiming themselves to be kings. With the putting aside of the Varṇāśrama system, the same appears to be on the verge of expulsion. The paths laid down as per the Veda seem to be on extinction. So where is Lord Viṣṇu given such circumstances? Give us the secret as to how to attain God (i.e.Viṣṇu) without knowledge, without contemplation and without controlling the sense organs. O king of demons! you are our dear friend and path-finder. You, the highly fortunate one, tell us where is Keśava?”
55. In this way, the Brāhmaṇas put their question to the virtuous demon who in turn with all happiness in mind offered them his salutation with due regard.
56. He also paid his obeisance to other gods as well as Brahmā—the Supreme Soul. Then to fulfill their (i.e. the Brāhmaṇas’) request, he, with due devotion towards God, began to tell them.